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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Elgin industrial complex can get work for cannabis growers

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Elgin may soon get its first cannabis business, but even if the doors open, the public won’t be invited.

The city’s planning and zoning commission reviewed plans this week to bring the hemp-growing facility to the industrial estate off the southeast corner of McLean Boulevard and Big Timber Road. The proprietary group behind the company, 1300 Abbott LLC, is part of the Flora Group LLC, which already owns dispensaries and transplant centers in various other states.

The artisanal farm operation is smaller than the large scale farming centers. Artisan growers can own up to 14,000 square feet of hemp growing space. The proposal calls for a 5,000-square-foot start, with an expectation of expansion to maximum space in the future.

The commissioners unanimously agreed to recommend moving the plan forward to the city council. City council members must review the plan and take a final vote before work begins.

Anthony Carpino, one of the owners, said he takes pride in his operations that keep it unobtrusive.

“You wouldn’t even know we were there,” Karpino told the commissioners. “We will work privately. We are only there to grow cannabis and produce products that will be sold to dispensaries.”

Elgin’s cannabis rules do not allow more than one type of cannabis business to operate from the same location. This means that the growth center cannot add a dispensary that will be open to the public.

Elgin doesn’t have any dispensaries despite recent attempts to lure them downtown by adjusting their rules about where they can locate them.

The Growth Center, which will open at 1300 Abbot Drive, will adjoin other industrial businesses on three sides. There will be apartment blocks directly adjacent to the south.

This is not a problem under city ordinance, which prevents cannabis businesses from opening “sensitive” land uses such as parks, schools, and daycare facilities. The closest location that meets this definition is Wing Park, which is more than 900 feet from the proposed facility.

The facility will operate from Monday to Friday. It will consist of two security guards during working hours and one security guard in the evening. A six-foot security fence will surround the property.

Otherwise, there will be no changes to the facility that can be observed from the outside.

All growth processes will occur within the existing building. This will include an indoor garden that will grow fruits and vegetables that the company will donate to shelters, food pantries and community members who want the freshest produce, Karpino said.

The company will employ 10 people. Karpino said they hope to fill these jobs with local residents.

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